Teen pleads not guilty to threat against military personnel

AP News
|
Posted: May 24, 2016 6:47 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A teenager accused earlier of trying to assist the Islamic State group has pleaded not guilty to accusations he tweeted out the names and addresses of military personnel with threats of violence.

Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, 19, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure.

Assistant federal public defender Thomas Thornton called Aziz "just a kid who made mistakes" and said he does not believe Aziz is a threat. He said his client is "overwhelmed" by the charges against him.

During the brief hearing, Thornton withdrew a request that Aziz be released from Dauphin County Prison and placed under house arrest with his parents, saying Aziz's parents love him but "don't feel they can undergo the scrutiny" of the courts and media.

Aziz pleaded not guilty in December to trying to help a group designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization. Prosecutors alleged that Aziz used Twitter to spread Islamic State propaganda and concealed a bag loaded with ammunition behind a dryer in his home.

Authorities allege in a criminal complaint that Aziz used 57 Twitter accounts traced to the central Pennsylvania home he shares with his parents to advocate violence, encourage people to fund jihadist groups and express a desire to travel to territory controlled by the Islamic State group.

Thornton has called the charges excessive for a teenager tweeting from his bedroom.

"He has no ability to affect any of the things he was tweeting about," Thornton said. "He didn't have any money. He doesn't have a passport. He was just a kid who made mistakes."